Copper was discovered in the area in 1872 (another source says 1887) and the
last major operation ended in 1896. It was worked sporadically from then
until 1960. In 2004 the mine was re-opened by Straits Resources.
At its peak there were about 400 people living in the town with 130 working
directly for the mine. There were originally two hotels, a blacksmith,
stables and even a racetrack.
The original name was Whim Well Copper Mine. Today the Whim Creek Hotel
is once again the focal point for miners who work in the area. Not long ago
the fuel pumps were removed so don't count on topping up here. (There is
word – 2006 - that the fuel pumps will be replaced but as yet we don’t know
when this will be but as of May 2007 there is still no sign of them
The hotel dates from 1898 and has a friendly country feel to it.
Rainfall in this area can vary widely. On April 3rd 1898 a whopping 747mm
fell in just 24 hours. In 1924 there was just 4mm for the whole year!
Across the highway is the track to Balla Balla – a popular camping spot on the
coast. Balla Balla was once a town site and was gazetted in 1898. The name is
derived from the Aboriginal word ‘parla’ which means mud. Balla Balla
probably means lots of mud and if you go there you will find it is very
The Whim Creek Hotel suffered a direct hit from a cyclone a while ago and the roof was
completely torn away but the owners decided to restore the pub and now
everything is back to normal.
There is a small graveyard (that is gradually being restored) at Whim Creek
and among the graves is one of Thomas Henry Darlington who was stabbed to
death by Frenchman, Joseph Saleno in 1911 during a drunken brawl.
Saleno was arrested and sent to Roebourne Gaol and witnesses to the murder
were sent by ship to Perth to give evidence. The ships never arrived as they
foundered near Depuch Island when a cyclone came roaring in. After all the
carnage he had been responsible for Saleno only received a 3 year sentence.
There are 23 other people known to have been buried at the Whim Creek
Whim Creek Hotel is a popular stopping point for travellers and is the only
remaining evidence of the once thriving town known as Whim Well. In its
heyday, the town had several pubs, a Post Office, Bakery, Police Station and
a population of 400, 130 of whom worked in the town’s copper mine - once the
biggest in the North West. In earlier years the ore was carried 20km to the
small port of Balla Balla on a railway line. Sails were attached to the
loaded rail wagons, in order to use the trade winds that blow during much of
the year. The jetty at Balla Balla was used until the decline of the copper
mine in the 1930’s and was finally blown away by a cyclone in 1956.
There used to be a second pub operated by John and Carla Dunn. It operated
from 1898 to 1910 when it burned down and the Dunn family moved to
take up farming.
It was about this time that Lester Davis was employed to
educate the children of Whim Creek. Trips down to the coast at Balla Balla
were a frequent occurrence and Lester used to catch fish by lighting a plug
of gelignite and throwing it into the water (this was a fairly common
practise at the time). One one occasion something went wrong and the
gelignite exploded before Lester had thrown it resulting in the loss of both
his hands. He then had to endure the 15 mile trip back to Whim Creek and
then a further 52 miles by car to reach Roebourne where he was attended to
by the local doctor. Against all the odds he did survive and eventually
returned home to England.
Other oddities of local history include an alcoholic
camel that used to steal patrons beer. The camel was apparently moved south
to Wiluna suffering from cirrhosis of the liver.
There was also a large python that used to live in the wooden rafters of the
pub. Its eventual fate is unknown.